Coming Up Next – We Need More Gun Control Laws!

by Jack Lee

The fear now is the shooting in Tucson will spark renewed gun control legislation and we’re already hearing rumblings on the left that is precisely what they intend to do.

Okay, Mr. Right-winger, you tell me, how is it that a crazy man was able to purchase a handgun? We need a new law to fix this!”

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Despite evidence that Jared Lee Loughner (shown left) is mentally unstable, he was never declared mentally unfit by a court. That means his name does not appear in the federal background-check database used by all AZ gun sellers.

The federal Gun Control Act of 1968 specifically prohibits the mentally ill from owning a firearm. But, to get there the mentally ill must go through a process to protect their rights and that wasn’t done – we don’t know why it wasn’t, but it’s worth looking into!

There have been at least six red flags that went up over the past few years indicating Jared Loughner, was dangerously unstable. According to the current law, if police have a reasonable cause to believe a mentally unstable person is in possession of a firearm and they are a danger to themselves or others, they can immediately remove said weapon/s for safe keeping until such time a proper court disposition can be made.

“Well, can’t you just walk in and buy a gun in Arizona almost any place and there’s no waiting period, isn’t that what Loughner did? There oughtta be a law…”

All weapons legally sold in Arizona must be registered, that is the law and the buyer can’t take possession until a background investigation is completed. Further, a photo ID is required for both handgun and long gun retail purchase. The Arizona Firearms Clearance Center does a background check on all gun purchases, including the federal instant check. A waiting period in Loughner’s case would have been pointless because he purchased the weapon 3 months ago, which far exceeds any waiting period in any state.

All Arizona law enforcement agencies have access to background information on firearm purchases, but do they all have the time or personnel to make good use of it? Both Tucson PD and the Pima County Sheriff’s Office were aware of Loughner’s bizarre behavior long before the shooting took place and obviously nobody took him to court for a mental hearing or did anyone attempt to remove any weapons from his residence. Why this didn’t happen is still an open question.

If we rewrite new gun control laws to further restrict legal, responsible gun owners, can we reasonably expect them to be any more effective than the current laws? Loughner fell through the cracks of the criminal justice system, despite the laws, not because of a lack of legal jurisdiction. That’s more of a personnel training problem, not a legal problem to be fixed by Congress. As it looks right now, it would seem both the mental health community and law enforcement dropped the ball – again, a lack of gun control laws was NOT the problem.

Bottom line: Stuff happens and even under the best of circumstances freedom still has some risk.

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4 Responses to Coming Up Next – We Need More Gun Control Laws!

  1. Tina says:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/10/giffords-shooting-sheriff-rightwing-rhetoric

    Giffords shooting: the sheriff who turned the focus on rightwing rhetoric – Clarence Dupnik, the Pima county sheriff, claimed ‘vitriolic’ US political debate had contributed to the tragedy by Jon Henley Guardian (UK) (Gun control remarks excerpted)

    Few outside his home state will have heard of Clarence W Dupnik before this weekend, but if world reaction to the Arizona shootings has focused on inflammatory rightwing rhetoric, it is largely down to the Pima county sheriff’s pronouncements.

    A local law enforcement officer for more than 50 years, Dupnik turns 76 tomorrow and, it seems, no longer feels a need to mince his words. On Saturday he condemned “the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country”. The next day he called Arizona the “Tombstone of the United States” because of its lax gun laws, and berated those who “try to inflame the public 24 hours a day” with “rhetoric about hatred, mistrust, paranoia of how government operates”.

    And while supporting “the people’s right to bear arms”, he has frequently expressed concern about lax gun control, arguing particularly against a bill currently under consideration in 13 US states, including Arizona, that would allow students with permits to carry concealed weapons on college campuses.

    Als, I just heard on the radio news that gun control legislation is being written in the congress…link to follow.

  2. Quentin Colgan says:

    Arizona cut mental health care 50% last year. Could that have something to do with it?

    The legislation is already written and lying in a drawer, “waiting for an excuse to pull it out,” according to Rush. Exactly like the Patriot Act.

  3. Post Scripts says:

    That makes some sense, states are hard pressed to have a balanced budget and typically they look at mental health as a sort of luxry. Thank you Quentin – good find.

  4. Tina says:

    Gun control legislation links:

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0111/47338.html
    One of the fiercest gun control advocates in Congress, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), pounced on the shooting massacre in Tucson, Ariz., Sunday, promising to introduce legislation as soon as Monday targeting the high-capacity ammunition clip the gunman used.

    My staff is working on looking at the different legislation fixes that we might be able to do and we might be able to introduce as early as tomorrow, McCarthy told POLITICO in a Sunday afternoon phone interview.

    Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) said hes preparing to introduce a similar bill in the Senate.

    http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2011/01/top-republican-rep-pete-king-to-introduce-gun-control-legislation.html

    The chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security Peter King, R-New York, announced today that he will introduce a bill that would ban knowingly carrying a firearm within 1,000 feet of certain high-profile government officials.

    [Mayor Michael Bloomberg] and I have discussed that we are introducing in the next several weeks legislation which would make it a federal crime to carry a weapon within 1,000 feet of any event which is attended by the President, the Vice President, members of the Senate, members of the House of Representatives, Cabinet officials, including the CIA director as well as federal judges, King announced this morning at City Hall in New York City.

    The attempted murder of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, and the subsequent shooting that killed six people last weekend is the first notable assassination attempt of a public official that transpired into a mass shooting.

    King said the legislation, which is still being written, is not only about protecting federal officials, but also about protecting the public at events with public officials.

    In the United States, it is illegal to bring a gun within 1,000 feet of a school. Passing a similar law in the proximity of government officials would give federal, state, and local law enforcement a better chance to intercept potential gunmen before they pull the trigger, according to King.

    Also posted at Huffington Post:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/11/pima-county-mental-health-services_n_807522.html

    WASHINGTON — In the past year, Pima County, Ariz., where Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others were shot Saturday, has seen more than 45 percent of its mental health services recipients forced off the public rolls, a service advocate told The Huffington Post.
    The deep cuts in treatment were protested strongly at the time, with opponents warning that they would result in a spike in suicide attempts, public disturbances, hospitalizations and brushes with the police. But according to Clarke Romans, executive director for southern Arizona’s branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the state government ignored requests for relief, citing the need to implement strict budget controls.

    Now, in the wake of this weekend’s horrific shootings, reports on the seemingly crazed mental state of the alleged shooter — who was not, apparently, enrolled in any public treatment program — is leading politicians, reporters and activists to take a fresh look at the funding of mental health care.

    They should also look at the inadequacy of their mental health bureaucracy. One would hope that a person showing signs of being a physical danger, rather than merely a public nuisance, would take precedence and be, at the very leastr, evaluated professionally.

    These are some of the uncomfortable and dangerous consequences we are bound to experience when budgets and revenue have been managed poorly and the private sector is shoved to the back of the busI fear it will become much worse before its over for most states given the state of our economy overall and broken state budgets.

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